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Friday, November 3, 2017

Atheism's Despair

The problem with identity politics, argues Mary Eberstadt at The Weekly Standard, is not merely that it needlessly divides us:
That identitarianism is now the heart and soul of politics for many is a visceral truth—as raw as the footage of violent political clashes making headlines with a frequency that would have shocked most citizens only a decade ago. What's singular about such politics is exactly its profound and immediate emotivism, its frightening volatility, its instantaneous ignition into unreasoned violence.
In this essay, she explores reasons for this "frightening volatility," and her conclusion resonates with those who take Genesis 1 and 2 seriously, that is, God's creation of the family as society's core institution. Mess with that, and everything unravels.
Speaking of family: Eberstadt critiques those elements of society that implicitly sabotage the family stability, but some attack it more directly. Here is an interesting—if also disturbing—"case against procreation." Among the many unassailable truths here is that there is no life without suffering. What the author fails to appreciate—something which men and women of many stations and abilities have discovered—is that suffering is not meaningless. In fact, it's the main path to discerning who we are and how to love. Even more to the point, it's the most fruitful road, which ends in the God who revealed himself on a bloody cross.
I've mentioned here my appreciation for Ta-Nehisi Coates's writing, as well as noting some critiques of his apparent hopelessness. I hadn't yet read a theological evaluation of his project. But "Is atheism the reason for Ta-Nehisi Coates's pessimism on race relations?" does a nice, if too brief, a job of exploring that dimension.
This week we celebrated the 500th anniversary, and we republished what I think is the best Reformation piece we published this year, David Zahl's "500 Years After Luther, We Still Feel the Pressure to Be Justified." He addresses this current social phenomenon:
A tragic escalation of a phenomenon experienced not just by college students, but by everyone today—the pressure to perform, to make something of oneself, to become acceptable, to make a difference in the world, to justify one's existence. It's a phenomenon that cannot help but reinvigorate narcissism. It throws us back on ourselves, and when we falter in some irreversible way, we inevitably view self-harm as an option.
He thinks Luther's rediscovery of justification by faith might have something to say to this.
Grace and peace,
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor in Chief, Christianity Today

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